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Snug Harbor purchased by Sanibel businessman

By Staff | Jan 28, 2010

Family owners at a recently closed Fort Myers eatery will be running business and property operations at one of the most established restaurants on Fort Myers Beach next week.

Sanibel resident Rob DeGennaro, who closed the doors of Icabod’s Wicked Good Food & Drink at 13851 S. Tamiami Trail on Sunday, is part of a team which will soon take over Snug Harbor Waterfront Restaurant, a business which has been on the Beach for more than 35 years.

DeGennaro said the move began when his team’s re-negotiation attempts fell through with the property owners of Icabods. Move over Snug Harbor. Here comes Nervous Nellie’s Crazy Waterfront Eatery.

“While we were working on negotiations, we put a deal together for a second restaurant which was Snug Harbor,” said DeGennaro. “We’re actually buying that, bringing it down a couple of notches price-wise and will soon introduce the menu that is similar to what Icabod’s was.”

DeGennaro said he’ll be moving into Snug Harbor on Monday, Feb. 1, and expects the name and concept change to occur by mid-to-late February.

“We’re going to take it over next week and do a slow transition,” he said. “It’ll stay as Snug Harbor until the new signs and new menus go into effect. At that time, I’d like to have a grand-opening beach party and invite all the local businesses.”

The DeGennaro family has been involved with many Sanibel eateries such as The Hungry Heron, RC Otters, Captiva Island Inn with the Key Lime Bistro and the Island Cow. He seems to enjoy the concept of animal themes.

“Nellie is a pelican who is neurotic about good food and crazy about this and worried about that,” said DeGennaro. “Her eyes are falling out of her head and her feathers are falling off. We know what the islanders and vacationers are looking for because we’re islanders ourselves. We’re going to bring in a moderately priced menu with all home-baked breads. It’s all home-cooked food with a price range from $4.95 to $15.95.”

DeGennaro said that Snug Harbor General Manager Mickey Ferry will be “staying on with us.” He looks forward to being a part of the BayWalk Group.

“We’re going to try to get the local businesses involved with us and one another, and come up with a greater scheme to get the Beach moving,” said DeGennaro. “We’re going to re-open the upstairs, and there’s going to be a new sky bar up there.”

Ferry, who could not get into details because of his present allegiance to current owner Rich Hendricks, said he will meet DeGennaro Tuesday after The Beach Observer’s press time. He expects the new waterfront eatery will be animated with an extensive menu like Ichabod’s.

“It will be Snug Harbor for the next couple of weeks,” said Ferry. “I think he’ll build on what was here with a change in concept. I think the place will be a little more fun and energetic. There should be more fun promotions since he’s big into promoting.”

The original Snug Harbor building was constructed during WWII by the Army Corps of Engineers for the Signal Corps chase boat operations in Southwest Florida. It was built on pilings completely over the water.

In 1978, under new ownership, Snug Harbor was developed into a full service restaurant and was extensively remodeled in 1991. In 1995 a complete renovation of the restaurant and docks took place.

In 2002, due to changing environmental, structural and hurricane building regulations, as well as an aging structure and rising costs of maintaining and insuring a restaurant built over the water, a new Snug Harbor building was built on dry land at the site of the old fish dock parking lot. It replaced the old restaurant building, which was abandoned and eventually demolished in 2006.